Unlabeled, untested, and you're eating it
The following is the text of a full page ad that appeared in yesterday's New
York Times. It is available for downloading both in Acrobat and in text form
At the end of the ad is a list of foods that have GE components and is the
most complete list that I've seen so far.
Speak up, everyone: at the grocery store, to your congress members, and to
UNLABELED, UNTESTED, AND YOU'RE EATING IT.
In secret, genetically engineered foods are showing up on American grocery
shelves. Though other countries now label biotech foods, the U.S. FDA
still does not require labels or safety tests. Don't you have the right to
know what's in your food? And if it's safe for your family?
You have the right to know if your baked potato contains bacteria
genes...or if the tomato in your salad has genes of viruses spliced in.
But at the very place where you encounter genetically engineered (GE)
products - your local grocery store - there is silence.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the biotechnology industry have
prevented the labeling of GE foods, effectively subverting your right to
know! And so, every day, millions of American infants, children and adults
eat genetically engineered foods without their knowledge.
Are these unlabeled foods dangerous? Nobody knows. The FDA refuses to
require any safety testing of genetically engineered foods. This, despite
the fact that there is significant scientific evidence that inserting
novel genes into foods can sometimes create dangerous toxins. For example,
this is the possible cause of the thousands of illnesses, and deaths from
the GE food supplement L-tryptophan several years ago. Failure to require
testing or labeling of GE foods has made millions of consumers into guinea
pigs, unknowingly testing the safety of dozens of gene altered products.
There is no doubt of the public's views. Opinion polls consistently show
that more than 90% of Americans support the labeling of genetically
engineered foods. A 1999 Time poll revealed that close to 60% would avoid
such foods if they were labeled. And last year more than 280,000 angry
consumers protested the Clinton administration's proposal on organic food
standards that would have allowed genetically engineered foods to be
certified as "organic." Little wonder that the biotechnology industry is
fighting to stop labeling. If consumers knew what was in these foods,
there's a good chance they wouldn't buy them. By its policy of "no
labeling" of GE foods, the U.S. has become a rogue nation. The European
Union has passed a law that requires labeling of genetically engineered
foods. Meanwhile, Canada and the European Union have banned the use of
genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH) in the production of
milk and dairy products. But the Clinton administration, the FDA, and the
biotech food companies continue to stonewall the American public. * * *
To help overcome the government's irresponsible policy, we are publishing
on this page a partial list of foods that have been genetically modified.
Should you be concerned about genetically engineered foods? Yes, you
should. According to documents recently released after a court order, even
scientists from the Food and Drug Administration have known of some
potential hazards from the genetic engineering of foods, dating as far
back as 1991.
The following is a list of several potential dangers from the genetic
engineering of foods. While there have been no tests so far conclusively
establishing that genetically engineered foods are harmful to humans, the
potential dangers are significant enough to mandate long-term independent
testing of GE food products before release into supermarkets.
TOXICITY. According to some FDA scientists, the genetic engineering of
food may bring "some undesirable effects such as increased levels of known
naturally occurring toxicants, appearance of new, not previously
identified toxicants, increased capability of concentrating toxic
substances from the environment (e.g., pesticides or heavy metals), and
undesirable alterations in the levels of nutrients." In other words,
scientists from the FDA itself suspect that genetic engineering could make
ALLERGIC REACTION. FDA scientists also warn that genetically engineered
foods could "produce a new protein allergen" or "enhance the synthesis of
existing plant food allergens." And a recent study in the New England
Journal of Medicine showed that when a gene from a Brazil nut was
engineered into soybeans, people allergic to nuts had serious reactions.
Without labeling, people with certain food allergies will not be able to
know if they might be harmed by the food they're eating.
ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE. Many GE foods are modified with antibiotic
resistant genes; people who eat them may become more susceptible to
bacterial infections. Commenting on this problem, the British Medical
Association said that antibiotic resistance is "one of the major public
human health threats that will be faced in the 21st century."
CANCER. European scientists have also found that dairy products from
animals treated with bovine growth hormone (rBGH) contain an insulin-like
growth factor that may increase the risk of breast cancer, as well as
prostate and colon cancer.
IMMUNO-SUPPRESSION. Twenty two leading scientists recently declared that
animal test results linking genetically engineered foods to
immuno-suppression are valid.
Unlabeled genetically engineered foods pose more than just health threats.
For millions of people, the consumption of GE foods may violate their
religious and ethical principles. For example, vegetarians try to avoid
all animal food; but without labeling they can't be sure that animal genes
have not been inserted into their vegetables. Jews and Muslims have rigid
dietary laws against eating certain animals, yet their tomatoes or lettuce
may one day contain pig genes. Don't they have the right to know?
And what of the suffering of genetically altered animals? One GE "super
pig" was unable to walk or stand. A GE "super salmon" had a monster head
and couldn't swim, eat, or breathe properly. There are hundreds of such
There are still broader ethical concerns. More than two dozen genes from
human beings have already been engineered into various animals. If we eat
them, can we call it cannibalism?
Despite all these concerns, and many more, the government has decided it
doesn't want you to know what's in the food you're eating. Clearly, the
reason is the constant pressure from the biotech food industry. The
Clinton administration seems incapable of resisting this pressure. But you
can resist it. Don't let your children continue to be the guinea pigs in
this experiment. Here are some things you can do.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
First, clip out the list of GE foods, take it with you to your supermarket
and discuss it with the management. Second, buy certified organic foods,
whenever possible. Third, support the movement demanding long-term
independent safety testing and labeling of genetically engineered foods.
Inquire with the organizations below about participating in legal actions,
petitioning of public officials, and public protests. For more
information, please call us at the number below.
PARTIAL LIST OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS
This is a list of processed foods that tested positive for genetically
engineered ingredients (September 1999). These tests were not "safety"
tests; they were only to establish the presence of unlabeled genetically
* Frito-Lay Fritos Corn Chips
* Bravos Tortilla Chips
* Kellogg's Corn Flakes
* General Mills Total Corn Flakes Cereal
* Post Blueberry Morning Cereal
* Heinz 2 Baby Cereal
* Enfamil ProSobee Soy Formula
* Similac Isomil Soy Formula
* Nestle Carnation Alsoy Infant Formula
* Quaker Chewy Granola Bars
* Nabisco Snackwell's Granola Bars
* Ball Park Franks
* Duncan Hines Cake Mix
* Quick Loaf Bread Mix
* Ultra Slim Fast
* Quaker Yellow Corn Meal
* Light Life Gimme Lean
* Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix
* Alpo Dry Pet Food
* Boca Burger Chef Max's Favorite
* Morning Star Farms Better'n Burgers
* Green Giant Harvest Burgers (now called Morningstar Farms)
* McDonald's McVeggie Burgers
* Ovaltine Malt Powdered Beverage Mix
* Betty Crocker Bac-Os Bacon Flavor Bits
* Old El Paso Taco Shells
* Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
Sources: Genetic ID (an independent testing firm) and Consumer Reports
By December 1998, the U.S. government had approved the commercial sale of
genetically engineered varieties of the following whole foods. No labeling
or long-term safety tests were required. (According to The New York Times,
about half of all soybeans and a third of all corn planted this year in
the U.S. were genetically engineered.)
* Canola (oilseed rape)
* Chicory, red hearted (Radicchio)
Source: Union of Concerned Scientists
A high percentage of the following ingredients have been made from
genetically engineered plants, and are commonly found in processed foods.
* Soy flour
* Soy oil
* Soy protein isolates and concentrates
* Corn flour
* Corn starch
* Corn oil
* Corn sweeteners & syrups
* Cottonseed oil
* Canola oil
(Signers of NYTimes full page ad October 18, 1999 )
Center for Food Safety
Foundation on Economic Trends
Food First / Institute for Food & Development Policy
Friends of the Earth
Council for Responsible Genetics
International Center for Technology Assessment
Organic Consumers Association
Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy
Mothers for Natural Law
Consumer's Choice Council
Food & Water
International Forum on Food and Agriculture
Pesticide Action Network
U.S. Public Interest Research Group
Center for Ethics and Toxics
Council of Canadians
Mothers & Others for a Livable planet
International Society for Ecology and Culture
Signers are all part of a coalition of more than 60 non-profit
organizations that favor democratic, localized, ecologically sound
alternatives to current practices and policies. This advertisement is #2
in the Genetic Engineering series. Other ad series discuss the extinction
crisis, economic globalization, industrial agriculture and megatechnology.
For more information, please contact:
Turning Point Project, 310 D St. NE, Washington, DC 20002
1-800-249-8712 * www.turnpoint.org * email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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